It is not often the coach of a football team that is 4-0 and has outscored it opponents 174-0 with a school-record for consecutive shutouts has concerns about his team.
But, Colts Neck coach Greg LaCava is still not sure how good his team is.
“I think my biggest issue is the mentality of the team,” said LaCava, whose team went 9-2 last season and advanced to the NJSIAA Central Group IV semifinals. “We’ve been playing sloppy at times. I told the team after the first week ‘We can’t continue to execute poorly, especially when the level of competition rises.’ ”
Colts Neck’s first four opponents are a combined 0-15.
Starting next week, when the Cougars come off their bye week with a home game against dangerous St. John Vianney (1-3), the level of competition will rise. Colts Neck, ranked No. 7 in the Asbury Park Press Top 10, will play at No. 2 Manalapan and No. 4 Middletown South in a three-week period beginning Oct. 25.
“To be the best and be called the best, you have to beat the best. We haven’t done that yet,” LaCava said.
The Cougars are a good team. They have one of the Shore’s best all-around players in senior tailback/defensive Anthony Gargiulo. They have seven returning starters on defense from last year and a good-sized offensive line.
The schedule Colts Neck has played so far is not its fault. It is the schedule the Shore Conference gave it. Two of the four programs the Cougars have played so far — Toms River East and North Brunswick — were NJSIAA playoff teams four years ago and three years ago respectively.
The first four games have enabled junior Christian Sanchez to develop at quarterback.
Senior John Miller was in line to be the starter before a foot injury sidelined him late in the preseason.
Miller, who is also an excellent safety, played in the opener at Toms River East, but then got re-injured. He has been sidelined since with a stress fracture, LaCava said. The coach hopes Miller will return to action for the St. John Vianney game on defense with Sanchez as the quarterback.
“When John gets back, it will makes us a better football team,” LaCava said.
A team that its coach is anxious to find out how good it is.
“We’re going to see how we react when we are in a situation with the game on the line and we have to make a stop, make a first down or score,” LaCava said.
This and that
Brick Memorial senior slotback/safety Mike Basile (turf toe) is “questionable” for Friday night’s game at Neptune, Mustangs’ coach Walt Currie said. … Manalapan has won 19 straight against Shore Conference opposition since a 12-7 loss at Jackson Memorial on Sept. 9, 2011. The Braves host Jackson Memorial Friday night. … Lacey has won 14 straight against Shore Conference opposition since a 35-7 loss at Middletown South on Nov. 4, 2011. … Colts Neck is 4-0 in consecutive seasons for the first time in its 14-season history. … Lakewood (3-1) has a winning record after four games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1982-83. The Piners were 3-1 in 1982 and 2-1-1 in 1983, according to Asbury Park Press records. Lakewood finished 3-6 in 1982 and 3-5-1 in 1983. … Monmouth Regional (2-1) can equal its combined win total from the last two seasons if it wins at Raritan Friday night. Monmouth went 1-9 in 2011 and 2-8 last season. … Toms River North is 0-4 for the first time since 1989. That was the first season of former coach Bob Nani’s highly-successful 16-year tenure. That team finished 3-6. The Mariners have had just four losing seasons since. … With Toms River East also 0-4, it is the first time since at least 1980, two Toms River Regional Schools teams have been 0-4 in the same season, according to Asbury Park Press records that date back to 1981.